Friday, June 12, 2015

Book Review: Fangirl

Title: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Published: September 10, 2013 by St. Martin's Press
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased online at barnesandnoble.com
A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.

Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole word is a Simon Snow fan . . . But for Cath, being a fan is her life--and she's really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it's what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath's sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can't let go. She doesn't want to.

Now that they're going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn't want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She's got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can't stop worrying about her dad, who's loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories? And does she want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

✮ ✮ ✮ ✮ 

(Warning: Review contain spoilers!)

The first thing that I like about the book is the part when Cath and her fiction-writing classmate, Nick, meet at the Love Library to co-write their own story. Nick prefers to write in a notebook, while Cath is more comfortable typing on her laptop. I like how this is so realistic and yet very contrasting because Cath is more content typing her stories on her laptop rather than jotting it down on a notebook. This reflects how technology has defined our modern generation. Some of us don't even know how to write in cursive anymore, to be frank. Our alphabet appears to have expanded, with all these different characters and emoticons teenagers have been using lately to substitute or shorten some words.

The story-ception idea is absolutely my most favorite thing in the book. I'm positively sure that a bunch of people have said this before, but Cath—or Rowell, really—had made me a fan of Simon Snow. Jumping from the real world to the World of Mages is entertaining because Rowell takes me to two different worlds, and I really enjoyed it. Rowell is already telling you a modern tale about a socially inept college girl, while at the same time, she's also narrating a story about Simon Snow. It's kind of like getting the best of both worlds. (Oh, I also just found out that Rowell is releasing a book on October 6th about the Carry On fan fiction Cath is writing in Fangirl. And I am seriously more than excited to get my hands on it!)

Another thing that I like about the book is Levi and Cath's relationship. He is open about his flirting, but he seems to be sending Cath mixed signals because since he hangs out in her dorm room a lot, he's sort of transmitting the false message that Reagan is his girlfriend. But my most favorite thing about their relationship is how Levi would ask Cath to read to him, mostly her fan fictions. She's never read her works out loud, so reading it out to Levi shows that she's fond of him, that she trusts him. And Levi, in return, has never been more than supportive of Cath (you should see him at the end of the book, just saying). I also like how Rowell didn't make it a love triangle between Cath, Levi, and Nick. The latter boy is merely a distraction—a not-so-minor-but-also-not-so-major character of the book. I have to admit, Rowell fooled me there when she first introduced Nick.

Now, let's talk about Reagan's character. I really enjoyed her only because I have a friend exactly like her, the "I don't like you, but I secretly do" kind of friend. Her friendship with Cath is so weird—in a good way—but the way I see it, Reagan posed as Cath's older sister. She's that older woman figure that Cath never had because her mother abandoned that duty. Also, Reagan being supportive of Cath is a total plus. A surly girl like her going with Cath to the bookstore to get the final Simon Snow book? I'm not even going to doubt that Reagan has grown attached to Cath.

Independence seems to be the main theme of Fangirl, which I really love, because not only does the book provide you with a fun read, but it teaches you about individuality as an independent person as well. Cath depended on Wren too much that when her twin sister decided to move on, Cath felt lost, constantly asking herself the same questions: "What will Wren do?" "What will Wren say?" "What will Wren think?" "If Wren was here . . . ?" Wren. Wren. Wren. It seems as though Cath is defined by who Wren is and what Wren does. However, as the story progresses, I've noticed a patent development in Cath's character. From someone who's scared of change and is socially inept, Cath grows into a strong and independent woman, who took on the role of being the mother of the Avery household. She took care of her dad when Wren is busy attending frat parties and drinking up to the point that she has to be admitted to the hospital due to alcohol poisoning. She grows into this girl who is capable of standing up for herself, of making her own decisions. Of finding out who she really is.

The Simon Snow series also contributes to the theme of Fangirl. I like how the fictional book series have played a big part in the book. It is what mended Cath's relationship with her twin sister. It is what made Levi fall for her—at least it is one of the reasons why he likes her. He likes how she reads her gay Simon Snow fan fictions to him, and he adores how passionate she is about them. Most importantly, it is what made Cath find her own voice as an author. Her fiction-writing professor is pushing her into doing something that she doesn't like, but by being adamant with her argument that she can never write her own fiction, Cath is able to distinguish her individuality. Cath has found her true voice because she finally realizes who she is. She knows what she wants to do, she knows her capabilities, and she sticks to what she believes. She doesn't have to let go of anything that she likes just because her college professor doesn't know how to appreciate it.

There's really nothing that I did not like about the book—at least majorly. I did not actually enjoy the parts when Cath comes home from college on the weekends . . . But that's only my opinion. Although the aforementioned parts are only written in short chapters, I personally think that the story is sort of slow in those specific parts. I enjoyed the entire book nevertheless.

Different races; social anxiety; divorced parents; the realities of being in college; fan fiction. These are all aspects of realism. I have never related to a young adult novel as much as I have related to Rowell's Fangirl (well, if you count out the social anxiety and the divorced parents part). I am an 18-year-old who is a soon-to-be college student. My chosen university is a two-hour drive away from where I live, which doesn't seem like much of a distance, but driving from my home to the university every day is only going to be a waste consumption of gas. I'm going to be moving in to one of the residential buildings on campus, and I'm going to be meeting a lot of new people . . . Just like Cath. So, Fangirl really is the perfect read for me. And I also write fan fiction, which is another plus, because, well, the book is totally inspired by fan fiction.

If you are just like me, who is a soon-to-be college student, or if you write fan fiction, or you're both, you may want to pick up this book and engage yourself in the world of college . . . and fan fiction—Simon Snow fan fiction.

It's addicting, trust me. And you surely don't want to be missing out.

✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖ ✖

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Rainbow Rowell writes books. Some of her titles include Landline, Eleanor & Park, Fangirl, and Attachments. When she's not writing, Rainbow is reading comic books, planning Disney World trips and arguing about things that don't really matter in the big scheme of things. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska with her husband and two sons.

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